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A Steam Bent Egg for Chelsea Flower Show 2021: Yeo x Tom Massey

21 September 2021

An eggscellent start to show week…
Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021

A year of firsts...

For the first time ever, Chelsea Flower Show 2021 is an Autumnal show. With different flowers in bloom, nature provides us with warmer, richer colours than the late springtime Chelsea Flower Show would normally display. This year we’re delighted to be working alongside the gold medal awarded Yeo Valley Organic Show garden, designed by  Tom Massey.

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Guests of the garden can shelter and settle into our steam bent egg which provides a cocoon of calmness. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

The first ever organic show garden approved by the Soil Association will appear at this month’s postponed RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Yeo Valley Organic Garden highlights the importance of looking after nature and the health of our soil. Designed by award-winning garden designer, Tom Massey, and supported by Yeo Valley Organic’s Sarah Mead, it is inspired by Yeo Valley’s family-owned, organically certified farm and 6.5-acre garden at Blagdon, Somerset. The magnificent garden showcases how choosing organic and taking small steps to work with nature, makes a positive impact on wildlife and plant biodiversity, a sustainability ethos we firmly align ourselves with at Tom Raffield.

The garden in detail

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Our steam-bent egg-shaped wooden hide provides a focal point and an elevated place to observe the garden and the wildlife it supports. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

Mirroring the diversity of life found on Yeo Valley’s organic dairy farm and garden in Somerset, the garden features a range of habitats and plants to encourage wildlife and support pollinators. It offers plenty of inspiring ideas on how gardeners can give nature a helping hand in their own gardens. The Yeo Valley team are also shining a light on the importance of soil health – something that is often overlooked - and the role soil plays in tackling climate change and global biodiversity collapse.

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Mirroring the organic tones found in the show garden, the handcrafted hideaway is the perfect place to sit and enjoy nature. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)
Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Carefully positioned in the garden, to ensure those in the egg get the optimum view of the thoughtfully curated garden. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

Surrounded by the Mendip Hills, the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Blagdon, Somerset has been lovingly created by Sarah over the past 25 years and is one of the largest organically certified ornamental gardens in the UK. Key features of the Somerset garden have been recreated at Chelsea including an open perennial meadow brimming with flowering plants and a glade of silver birch. The design also features charred logs (which will become biochar after the show) used as garden markers and rammed earth walls as boundaries, both highlighting the importance of soil health to our changing world.

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Full of playfulness, the wooden egg allows guests to winch themselves up to see nature from a different perspective. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

Tom Massey had originally designed the garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020, but when this was cancelled and then the 2021 show postponed, he and Sarah modified the planting plan to suit the later season. The result is a rich tapestry of late summer perennials such as dahlias, heleniums and rudbeckia; a gauzy haze of ornamental grasses; and trees and shrubs in full fruit such as medlar and rose.

“We’ve been quietly growing and farming organically for many years now and we know it has huge benefits for the environment, particularly in safeguarding the soil and supporting pollinators and wildlife. We’re not in the business of telling people how to live, but we see that even small steps make a difference. We are so excited to bring our organic credentials and experience, with the backing of the Soil Association, to the world’s greatest flower show. Now is the perfect time to start shouting a bit louder about the benefits of growing and buying organic and putting nature first in everything we do.”

- Sarah Mead, Head Gardener at Yeo Valley Organic.
Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021

Our Steam Bent Hideaway

We were honoured to be commissioned to design and craft a unique sculptural, egg-shaped structure for this amazing garden. Suspended above a flowing stream, our steam bent design is a welcome space to sit and observe the surrounding garden landscape. Curved dry-stone walls divide the site into distinct habitat zones. The boundary walls are dry-stone topped with mixed native hedging plants, representing the importance and diversity of British hedgerows.

Using sustainable materials and mixing traditional crafts with a pioneering steam bending technique, our design bonds form and function to create a bespoke installation for this inspiring and organic Show Garden.

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Our wooden hideaway has been popular among a few familiar faces…(Image credit: Yeo Valley)

"Partnering with Tom Massey and Yeo Valley is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our creativity, sustainable ethos and unique steam bending technique. Our experimental outlook combined with our ground-breaking design process gives us the capability to create complex curves on a large scale and offer a bespoke service to our clients. We are looking forward to seeing the egg come to life and hope the visitors to this year's show enjoy using it as much as we did making it!"

- Founder, Tom Raffield.
Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Crafted from sustainably sourced oak wood, the steam bent design was handcrafted by our talented workshop team in Falmouth, Cornwall. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

Putting nature first

As Britain’s largest organic brand, Yeo Valley Organic considers the environmental impact of everything it does and taking the garden to and from Chelsea is no exception. Organic principles guided the plant production, and all plants will be re-homed back at Yeo Valley after the show. The hard landscaping materials, including biochar logs, are coming from, and returning to the farm, while the sculptural ‘egg’ will be installed in pride of place in Sarah’s gravel garden for visitors to enjoy into the future. Importantly on the environmental front, Yeo Valley Organic has added homemade biochar, a proven soil improver, to the organic potting mix used to grow the organic plants for the show. The use of biochar locks additional carbon into the soil and its beneficial qualities demonstrate the importance of soil health.

Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2021
Healthy soil is important to all our futures, especially as we tackle global pandemics, a changing climate and biodiversity decline. (Image credit: Yeo Valley)

“The soil plays a pivotal role in our fight to reverse climate change but the world of microscopic activity under our feet is often overlooked. Carbon is the building block of all life and as gardeners we need to be reminded of the role we play in locking carbon into the soil, where it can help sustain life for generations to come. We want to create a beautiful garden that inspires visitors to think about using more sustainable gardening practices. September is one of the most wonderful times of year in the garden and so it is extra special to be part of the first, and most likely only, Chelsea in September."

– Tom Massey, Garden Designer.

Posted: 21.09.21
Updated: 08.06.23

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